Sam Sacks

Sam Sacks has 718 articles published.

CENTCOM Chief Denies Loosening Civilian Targeting Rules, Deflects Blame For Mosul Deaths

A top US military commander is denying reports that that the Pentagon has relaxed its targeting protocols, despite rapidly increasing civilian casualty rates in Syria and Iraq. The head of US Central Command (CENTCOM), Gen. Joseph Votel, testified before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, providing details on the military’s probe of a series of airstrikes in Mosul in recent weeks that have reportedly killed upwards of 300 civilians. Votel noted he agreed with an analysis made Tuesday, by Lt. Gen. Steve Townsend, that concluded there… Keep Reading

White House Digs Claws Deeper in Congressional Probe of Russia Connections

*UPDATED TO INCLUDE RESPONSE FROM WHITE HOUSE* A decision to abruptly cancel House Intelligence Committee hearings this week was reportedly forced by the Trump administration. The Washington Post obtained letters regarding a forthcoming appearance of former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates before the committee, as part of its investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Yates was slated to appear before the panel on Tuesday, but the correspondences retrieved by the Post suggest that the White House moved to block her… Keep Reading

E.P.A. Chief Signals Death of Clean Power Plan, Paris Climate Agreement

An Obama-era regulation seeking to reduce carbon pollution and slow global temperature increases is next on the chopping block for the Trump administration. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt told ABC News over the weekend that the President will sign an executive order Tuesday to dismantle the Clean Power Plan. The order will “address the past administration’s effort to kill jobs across this country through the Clean Power Plan,” Pruitt said. He added that the move is “about making sure that we have a pro-growth and pro-environment approach… Keep Reading

Watchdog: D.E.A. Informant Program Undermines Foreign Policy and U.S. Security

More damning information came out on Thursday about the Drug Enforcement Administration’s reliance on confidential informants, including new details about how it jeopardizes “national security, foreign relations, and civil liberties.” The Department of Justice Inspector General released a public summary of a classified addendum that was affixed to a scathing report, released last September, on the DEA’s use of confidential sources. The prior audit discovered that the agency did not properly oversee its network of informants, increasing the risk of fraud and constitutional abuses. The new… Keep Reading

Dem Intel Leader Praises Trump’s Electronics Ban

The Department of Homeland Security enacted a new policy in the early morning hours on Tuesday, blocking travelers from certain Muslim-majority nations from bringing larger electronics on flights to the US. The rules affect 10 airports in eight nations, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Morocco, Turkey, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt. They apply only to foreign carriers, not US airliners. Electronics covered by the ban include laptops, tablets, cameras, and larger gaming consoles. They can, however, be carried in checked bags. Officials told the… Keep Reading

Comey Hearing Confirms Counter-Intel Investigation into Trump Campaign; No Evidence of Trump’s Wiretap Claim

FBI Director James Comey announced on Monday that his bureau’s probe of suspected Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election also includes looking into alleged ties between Trump campaign officials and Moscow. In testimony before the House intelligence community, Comey provided few other details about the inquiry and which individuals might be targets. He did note that the probe was initiated late July of last year. “I have been authorized by the DOJ to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating… Keep Reading

Trump the Slasher Releases 2018 Budget: Climate Change, Job Assistance, the Arts Take Backseat to War and the Wall

Fifteen major government departments would see their funding cut, and 19 agencies would be completely eliminated under the proposed budget released by the White House on Thursday. The preliminary document calls for massive spending reductions at the Environmental Protection Agency, the State Department, the Agricultural Department, and the Labor Department. All would see more than a fifth of their budget go up in smoke. The cutbacks finance significant spending increases at three departments: Defense (up 9 percent), Homeland Security (up 7 percent), and Veterans’ Affairs… Keep Reading

Charges Filed Against Russian Hackers—Unrelated to DNC, Podesta Breach

The Justice Department filed charges against Russian intelligence operatives for their alleged role in a 2014 cyber attack against a half-million Yahoo users. The indictments mark the first time that any such charges have been brought against members of the Russian government, which is often accused by US officials of sponsoring aggressive cyber warfare. Four people were charged altogether. Among those standing accused of hacking, economic espionage, and wire fraud, are Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin—members of the FSB, a Russian intelligence and law enforcement… Keep Reading

Watchdog Calls for Conflict-of-Interest Probe Into Trump Advisor

A Washington-based non-profit organization is calling on the White House counsel to determine if one of Trump’s assistants broke laws on self-dealing. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint on Tuesday, alleging that Christopher Liddell–a presidential aide and the Director of Strategic Initiatives–blended governmental duties with his own private interests. In a letter to White House Counsel Donald McGahn, the liberal watchdog group laid out its case against Liddell, and suggested the matter be turned over to the Justice Department for a criminal… Keep Reading

Torture Architects and Overseers Ordered to Testify in Gitmo Trial

For the first time, key figures associated with the CIA’s post-9/11 enhanced interrogation program could be forced to testify under oath about their activities. During a death penalty trial at Guantanamo Bay on Tuesday, a military judge permitted defense attorneys to call as witnesses four former CIA officials with intimate knowledge of the agency’s torture tactics. Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri is accused of plotting the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. His defense team is moving to dismiss evidence against their client that was collected while Nashiri… Keep Reading

GOP’s Obamacare Replacement Under Fire From All Sides

Republicans in Congress introduced the American Health Care Act on Monday, drawing disappointment and disgust from several factions in Washington. Touted as the replacement to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the bill is being panned by Democrats who argue it will result in fewer people covered and higher out-of-pocket costs. More of a concern for Republican leadership, fellow conservatives are also deriding the legislation. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) described the proposal as “Obamacare Lite.” Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) called it “Obamacare 2.0.” The highly influential… Keep Reading

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